Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Mistakes Of My Fathers

Growing up, I was pretty much in the dark about the history of the Dominican Republic. The topic wasn't taboo or anything-Trujillo didn't run my family off the island-it just wasn't something we spoke about.

Then a few years ago I read Edwidge Danticat's The Farming of Bones, which included mention of a massacre along the border of DR and Haiti, and I was in total shock. I knew Trujillo was a "bad man" but the extent of his evil astounded me.

Today, in Dajabón, and through Saturday, the two nations that share the island of Hispaniola will commemorate the genocide committed by El Jefe.

From the press release:

Courtesy of
Among the notable artists supporting and attending the gathering is author and activist, Julia Alvarez. "Many Dominicans in the diaspora and in the country have been waiting for an opportunity to acknowledge a shameful event in our past, the 1937 massacre of thousands of Haitians, ordered by the dictator Trujillo, and carried out by Dominicans. We feel compelled to do what our governments and our treaties, our accords and our conferences have not done: to express our sorrow for this shameful crime. We would also like to celebrate our many collaborations, our brotherhood and sisterhood. We look to the future and our shared hopes for this whole island and small planet,” says Ms. Alvarez. The project has the support of other leading public figures, including Edwidge Danticat, Michele Wucker, and Junot Díaz.

I met Ms. Danticat years ago at a writing conference and felt compelled to apologize to her for that atrocious blotch on our common history. She looked at me as if I were crazy but that's OK. I needed to say it, for all the years I kept a blind eye to what had happened on the island and for everything my family didn't do to put a stop to it.

I'm still a proud first-generation Dominican American, for sure. Just a little wiser and little less snooty about it.

*smooches...moving on but never forgetting*
one of these days I'll have to make a pit-stop in Dajabón...